Tomcats … say hello to my little fiend

If you take an ant and trick out its colours so it looks like an orange and black sports car, then you might have an idea what this nasty little bug looks like.  To be fair, the Tomcat is excellent at pest control. Where this toxic beetle becomes problematic is when humans are involved. Humans tend to swat, crush and smear insects that crawl on them.  The tomcat spreads this toxin without breaking your skin.

The tomcat is also known as the rove beetle. I prefer to call it a nasty little S.O.B.

rovebeetletomcat_d_bug_by_ready2errupt-d4u810w

The tomcat is stealthy, and before you know it it’s on you. You won’t even feel the toxin. An hour or so later, maybe even the next morning you’ll have a welt.

The inflammation may grow, or it may be followed by more welts unless the toxin is washed from your skin, clothing, towels and exposed surfaces.

220px-Paederus_rove_beetles,_showing_size

This morning, I’m on my third round with the TomCat. Unfortunately, like a certain MMA fighter … I don’t think I’m the winner. Unlike said fighter, I won’t have a massive payday in spite of my courage and superb fighting skill. My first exposure was likely from a tomcat hiding in a rain poncho I wore, which resulted in a large welt under my arm. The next one, and the current experience seem to be from tomcats in the house.

I am sharing a few images, for which I apologize.

We’ve used bee oil to reduce the swelling. Similar to Kayu Putih(which is a wood oil) it reduces the swelling and irritation. We are going to try Benadryl this time. I’ll let you know how it works.

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The consequences of neglect

Trash, litter, waste, and rubbish may be our actual four horsemen. We have almost as many words for what we throw away as the Inuit supposedly have for snow. We all face the same problems of lives spent leaving an unsightly trail.

As many of us work to improve our neighbourhoods and celebrate our communities, some can’t be bothered to carry a plastic cup to a bin. Children are allowed to drop garbage as they walk. In fact, children are encouraged in the lackadaisical littering by the somnambulant slovenliness of their supposedly more mature elders. What still shocks me, and shouldn’t, is that this attitude carries over into private homes and places of worship.

As you drive through Surabaya you will see high apartment towers, shining malls, mosques and churches. You will also see quite a number of ornate neoclassical and modernist homes. Many of these enclaves of large homes are ringed by gates and staffed with private patrols.

Even in these fortresses, and the schools and shops that serve them, the lack of care is evident. Tables and desks left strewn with the detritus of a task or meal. Trash piled against a wall or left littering church or mosque steps.

Parents, schools, and communities need to be on board for any change to work. Imagine the reaction from Mom and dad when the satpam tells the kid, “Hey, use the trash bin!” Even if it’s phrased as “please dispose of your trash in the appropriate receptacle”. (Insert correct translation as you like) In the west and in Singapore people have been conditioned not to litter, and of course there are fines. We see it here in Surabaya, and in Bali that quite a number of North Americans, Europeans, and Singaporeans happily relax their morality and social conscience while on vacation.

This isn’t about when in Rome … the long term consequences of our actions and inactions have to be considered. The same goes for us as visitors; you don’t litter at home, don’t do it here.

Locally, people will change, even in more traditional communities. They need to see viable alternatives and workable (within their capabilities and resources) solutions.

Governments and industry are happy to tout their respect for local/traditional wisdom as long as it keeps locals traditionally ignorant. Kalimantan, Sumatra, Lapindo, Bali’s water crisis and the mess that is Kenjeran beach are not the fault of villagers and tukang parkir.

Waste and neglect are not an enviable legacy to be left by any culture.

Improving your life shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg

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September is here

September 19th, 2008

September has come to Surabaya.

Not the bracing chill of autumn,but the pressing heat of the late dry season.

I miss seasons.

I was just remembering how beautiful autumn could be. I look forward to rediscovering the colors and smells of a September morning. I’ve told Emily, the kids and my students about the long walks.

How difficult to communicate the long moments spent admiring the golds, reds and greens and browns. To feel the last warmth of the year on your face.

To stare unashamedly into clear autumn skies. To breathe deep of the cooling breeze. To taste greedily of the clean air.

How to explain looking up at the sky and knowing that this brief, transitory experience has to be embraced and then tucked safely away as winter’s approach is heralded in the ever-darkening skies.